Scott Aaronson writes about the the Kolmogorov option (suggested alternate title: “Kolmogorov complicity”). Mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov lived in the Soviet Union at a time when true freedom of thought was impossible. He reacted by saying whatever the Soviets wanted him to say about politics, while honorably pursuing truth in everything else. As a result, he not only made great discoveries, but gained enough status to protect other scientists, and to make occasional very careful forays into defending people who needed defending. He used his power to build an academic bubble where science could be done right and where minorities persecuted by the communist authorities (like Jews) could do their work in peace.
Let’s be like Kolmogorov and do some good within the entirely reasonable restrictions that the social justice movement places on us. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Identity politics doesn’t seem quite true, but it’s not doing too much harm, really, and it helps keep the peace, and lots of people like it. Just ignore this one good prosocial falsehood that’s not bothering anybody, and then you can do whatever it is you want.
I disagreed, of course, and you can see my answer to this comment at the first link above. But truly, I’m astounded at someone claiming that we should shut up and just go along with the social justice warriors and identity politics so we can get on with our quotidian tasks. I want the Democrats to win in 2020, and I don’t want the lunacy of some Leftists to scotch that possibility. I can still do science while criticizing what I see fit.
I forgot to add, however, that even doing a particular kind of science can land you in trouble, as happened with Nikolai Vavilov during the Lysenko era in the Soviet Union.
I’ll call “Kolmogorov’s” attention to this post, so feel free to respond to him/her. But be polite, of course.